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    Charles & Co

    Charles & Co

    Charles & Co is an independent interior design business, founded in New York, by Vicky Charles and Julia Corden. With over twenty years’ experience, defining the ‘home from home’ design aesthetic of Soho House, Vicky now leads a team of twenty, delivering bespoke interior schemes direct to clients. Specialising in interior and architectural design for new buildings and complete gut renovations, Charles & Co works collaboratively with the architect, contractor and client to guide each project, from inception to completion.

    1. How did you begin designing interiors ?

    Vicky Charles: I worked for Soho House organizing their parties for the Oscars, and Cannes Film Festival and more, this naturally evolved into designing all their new projects. I learnt about budget, and timelines for events and as a creative, becoming part of the design process was a natural progression for me.

    2. Has there been a defining moment in your career ?

    Soho House Chicago was my first project to lead solo and from there it steamrolled to becoming Design Director of Soho House, but deciding to leave and set up my own studio after nearly 20 years working with them was the defining moment of my career. I have more creative freedom and get to work with many more clients more intimately.

    3. What is your favorite type of client/project ?

    A client essentially becomes your muse when you are designing their home, so your relationship is so important to be able do your best for them. It is a respectful, and trusting experience, and you have to understand each other so well, so you know when to push each other to create the best work. Luckily, I have many repeat clients,  who we mostly work with again and again on multiple projects, and I’m very protective of these long lasting relationships.

    4. What do you think is the deciding factor in a successful interior design project ?

    Your relationship with the client, it has to feel like a collaborative process. A project is successful when the client truly feels like their home, is unique to them and that they designed and created it with you. And then asks you to do it again somewhere new.

    5. What is the most challenging aspect of your work ?

    To renovate or build new requires patience, there will be hiccups in the process and things don’t always go to plan, at some point something will go wrong. Sometimes you have to communicate bad news, find solutions and reassure clients that this pain will pass and at the end they’ll have a beautiful new home, which will be worth it.

    6. How would you describe your creative process and its influences ? How do you get inspired ?

    The process has to start with listening. It sounds obvious but it’s not only the landscape or the building but understanding the client’s expectations and dreams for their future home. The building becomes the muse throughout the process.  Words don’t always describe what you want a project to feel or look like so we start collecting images and materials to create a visual narrative that is constantly being edited as we develop. The search for these images and materials is a new process for every client. It’s like a treasure hunt for ingredients to build something special and unique for the clients, it’s never the same process.

    7. What advice would you give beginner designers ?

    Get off your screen. We work in a physical industry and your relationships with people whether electricians, upholsterers, or architects, not to mention clients will help make you successful. Go out, talk to those who make beautiful things, touch materials, see colors in person. None of this is done with a device.

    Photography: Shade Degges
    Photograpy: Shade Degges
    Photography: Douglas Friedman
    Photograpy: Stephen Kent Johnson

    8. What would be the ideal place to design for you ?

    My heart always falls in love with a restoration and finding a place with old bones, and soul that has been neglected and needs to be brought back to life. Buildings need people and people need shelter and leaving something for the next generation, is a wonderful thing, I feel so lucky that I get to do this.

    9. Could you describe a typical day of your work ?

    Depends, there are 3 types of typical days for me.  

    1. A day in my studio at home upstate New York is where I schedule all the team and client zooms. Its peaceful as I have fantastic view of the Catskills & the forest and take regular breaks walking my dogs rain or shine.  
    2. If I am in our head office in NYC, which is more like big sample library, I am working with the team or clients or meeting new suppliers to look at materials. I hate sitting at a desk on these days it’s all about building schemes. 
    3. I travel often to our projects and like to be there at key times, before demo, after demo, when framing is complete, as finishes are installed and then as we finish and bring in the furniture etc. This is when the magic happens and I love this part of the process.  We currently have projects in Italy, the UK, and in the US so I try to be efficient with my travel and to combine work and meeting new suppliers, as I hate being away from my family unnecessarily.

    10. How do you choose the specific materials you work with ?

    I love to visit marble yards, especially with clients to see what colors they are instinctively drawn too. It’s fascinating. Also getting the flooring correct is essential to the success of the project. The floor is the material you touch all the time and if you get this wrong nothing in the room will look right.

    11. What artists/creatives have influenced you ?

    All the talented people on my team and I have someone wonderful friends in the industry, sharing ideas is the most inspirational way to work. I love being pushed to do better by everyone I work with, and the best work comes from collaborating with others I respect and admire.

    12. What contemporary designers do you appreciate ?

    Ilse Crawford is a big influence, and we share the same ethos, putting the human experience at the center of design.  I understand how much more successful a project is when the interior designer works with the architect from the very first step of the process, in our roles we sometimes see things differently but when we come together, we create the best work. Ilse really talked about this openly and showed me this was the only way to work.

    13. If you had to summarize your creations in one word or sentence, what would it be ?

    Rooms to be lived in and to grow with your life.

    14. Do you have any books/programs/podcasts to recommend to our readers?

    The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton is essential for anyone who is aware of the effect of your environment on your feelings.

    Photography: Iringo Dememter
    Photography: Nicole Frazen

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